Demain, dès l’aube

This is Victor Hugo’s most famous poem, and the one that is regularly voted France’s favourite. Hugo wrote the poem for his daughter Léopoldine, who had died in a drowning accident. The work is full of beautiful nature imagery and melancholy so typical of French poems.

Demain, dès l’aube

Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.

Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps
Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l’or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j’arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert.

Tomorrow, at first dawn

Tomorrow, at first dawn, when the country starts to whiten,
I will set out. You see, I know you’re waiting for me.
I will go by forest, I will go by mountain,
Away from you I can no longer remain.

I will walk with eyes fixed onto my thoughts,
Without seeing outside, nor hearing any noise,
Alone, unknown, my back bent, my hands crossed,
Forlorn, and the day for me will be night.

I will watch neither the gold of the falling evening,
Nor the sails in the distance descending on Harfleur,
And when I get there, I will put on your grave
A bunch of green holly and blooming heather.